NEW CLUB FOR OLD LANGAN'S
Notorious restaurateur Peter Langan may have died some 24 years ago this December, but the restaurant that still bears his name, Langan’s, continues to be a social hotspot in Mayfair, with little change to the venue or the menu.
Now, a new chief executive has arrived, Brian Clivaz, who emphasises that though some changes will be made, everything will stay the same – apart from the upstairs room.
“No, we aren’t making any great changes,” he said, “just tweaking the details.” But one of his first acts has been the restoration of murals in the upstairs room that were covered over in one of Peter Langan’s more wanton acts of inebriated vandalism.
Langan had asked noted artist Patrick Proctor to paint Venetian scenes on the walls of the room but took exception to them when he was tired and emotional and immediately had them painted over with brown varnish.
It was thought that there was no hope of restoration, but a small firm recently came up with a secret application that has indeed revealed and restored the paintings to their original splendour.
This attractive room is now being launched as Langan’s late night club, serving drinks and snacks until 2pm. Meantime, in the long restaurant room below, its walls decorated with paintings by former customers, including Bacon, Hockney and Freud, Clivaz intends that food standards will be raised under the appointment of Liam Smith-Laing, formerly at Lat Petite Maison and Petrus, and now the new executive chef.
At top, ongoing restoration work on the paintings in the Venetian Room. Above, the long restaurant room; and below, new md Brian Clivaz .
The menu, which includes such old favourites as sausages and mash, cod and chips and liver and bacon as well as more gourmet dishes, is a mix of French and English, much the same as when the restaurant started.
Then, in 1976, entrepreneur Peter Langan and actor Michael Caine got together to found the restaurant, joined by Peter Shepherd a year later. Langan was the outrageous front-of-house character, as much in the news as his famous customers; Caine could indulge his interest in fine wines; and Shepherd, one of the first British chefs to achieve a Michelin star in 1974, guaranteed the restaurant’s food quality.
Now Shepherd, who bought out Caine in 1999, has sold his shares in the company but will remain as chairman. Clivaz, who came from being managing director at the Arts Club, and formerly one of the founders of Home House private members club, will oversee the other three restaurants in the group, Odin’s, Langan’s Bistro and Shepherd’s, as well as Langan’s. He has announced that the restaurant will be open for breakfast and all-day dining on Sundays.
It is a testament to Shepherd’s talent, both as a chef and a businessman, that the restaurant has lasted from the dog days of Swinging London to the present.
“I’m really proud that we have kept the business going for 36 years,” he said. “How many restaurants are there which have lasted that length of time?”